Space: Solar flares

December 17, 2006

This past week the Earth was blasted with a coronal mass ejection which showered our atmosphere with radiation.  From the surface of the Earth, this ration is visible in the form of auroras.  As the radiation hits the atmosphere, it excites the particles in the air, creating primarily green (oxygen) and blue (nitrogen) hues in the sky.  For a gallery of recent auroras from this past event, check up the images on the Space Weather web site.  But what causes these ejections?

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Space: Shooting star spotted Saturday

December 17, 2006

It is always a case of being in the right place at the right time.  Last night, I walked outside and caught a shooting star streaking down towards the Northeast,  with a bright golden tail as it passed through our atmosphere.  Just before it reached the horizon, it began to break up and fizzle out.  This is the second shooting star I have seen in the past 14 months, with the prior one being Halloween night 2005.  So if you are ever out at night, especially when it is clear, remember to look up in the sky and keep an eye out.  You never know what you might see.